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Judge gets probation for beating his wife

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James Allen QC convicted after court rejects claim that his deputy coroner wife punched herself during row at their home.

A high court judge has been put on probation and ordered to pay £5,000 costs for a "dangerous and unpleasant" attack on his wife.

James Allen QC, 61, who sits as a deputy in West Yorkshire, was convicted after police and a doctor challenged his claim that his wife punched her own head in frustration after a row.

Melanie Allen, 44, a local deputy coroner, backed up his defence at an earlier hearing and admitted past self-harming, but both accounts were rejected by a district judge. The court heard that a 999 call to police, which was recorded, described Allen as "trying to kill" his wife.

He was told by district judge Daphne Wickham at Bradford magistrates court: "You are no longer the master, Mr Allen. You are the servant." She underlined his legal obligation to co-operate with probation staff as he sat silently behind his lawyer during the 10-minute hearing.

Wickham said that she had not believed the accounts given by the couple, who are still together but had admitted having a heated argument. The court heard that Allen had reacted "like a sprung coil" after coming back from a tiring spell away and finding his wife engrossed in talking to their cleaner.

Wickham said that Allen had hit his wife at least three times, causing swelling and bruises which were "not long-lasting but dangerous and unpleasant". Police who answered the 999 call to the couple's home at Woolley, near Wakefield, said that no mention had been made at the time of self-harming. A doctor described the injuries as not consistent with self-punching.

The judge told Allen: "The effect of this conviction on you personally and professionally is profound. That is punishment, I'm sure you will think, in itself."

Mrs Allen, a barrister who sits as a coroner under her maiden name of Williamson, was not in court. Allen was called to the bar in 1973, took silk in 1995, and was made a deputy high court judge 11 years ago. His high-profile cases include the refusal of a claim by the RSPCA to a large disputed bequest.

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